Most people, when on vacation, are content to let their minds wander and relax. But for Joshu+Vela’s Noah Guy, ideas deserve action, no matter where you are.
In 2001, Noah was deep into experimenting with life. He’d been a cook at an organic vegetarian restaurant, recorded documentaries at a non-profit radio station, was a graphic designer and a web designer, and was traveling in Australia when he had an idea for a bag. Instead of filing that idea away for another day, he moved to Thailand and started researching factories – no joke. “I found a factory that was professional, did good work, had good labor practices and clean, and I worked with them to produce a bag I designed,” he says.
Noah claims the experience gave him two revelations – he needs to live where the factory is, and he needs to own the factory. And, after owning a factory in Bali, designing for heavy-hitting companies like The North Face and Levi’s, Noah started Joshu + Vela in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood in 2010. “And I was pretty friggin’ sure I was going to fail,” he admits.
Despite that initial fear, the Cali native is living his dream, sourcing his raw materials and making highly acclaimed, ruggedly beautiful totes, bags, dopp kits, wallets and more - all in the USA.
“I think of design in terms of being used in the city and also in the mountains or on the beach, so the products I make are tough enough to be able to be thrown around or rained on and they also look like you sort of know what you’re doing in the city.”